Hey guys! It's been a while since I uploaded a new story or standalone one shot. I originally intended for this to be a part of my one shot collection, but ultimately I decided I liked it on its own as an individual one shot.
So, please enjoy!
And just as a reminder: I don't own anything from the Pokémon universe.
Upon Further Inspection
"It's about time you showed up!"
Ash, already exhausted from a long day of training, shot the source of that less-than-pleasant greeting an exasperated look. "I'm happy to see you too, Mist."
His expression quickly turned to one of bewilderment, however, when he realized that Misty was pacing back and forth in front of the bleachers, wringing her hands together.
"Chu?" Pikachu squeaked from his trainer's shoulder.
"Is something wrong?" Ash asked tentatively.
"Yeah something's wrong!" Misty exclaimed, finally turning towards Ash and throwing her hands down to her sides. "The PIA started making unannounced visits again, and they already stopped in Pewter City. Forrest just warned me that I'm next!"
Ash stared at her for a long time, completely mute. Pikachu, who felt it would be appropriate to give the humans a little privacy, leapt off of Ash's shoulder to join Vaporeon, who was lounging on the gym bleachers. After several beats of silence, Ash opened his mouth and asked, "what's the PIA?"
Misty blinked just once, her jaw going slack. "Please tell me you're joking."
Ash frowned and shook his head. "Never heard of 'em before."
"Oh my-Ash, you're the Pokémon Master, and you don't know what the PIA is?"
"No," Ash refuted. "I guess we haven't gotten up to that lesson yet."
"Don't try and be funny," Misty warned, pointing a finger in Ash's direction. "I am not in the mood for it."
"Well, maybe if you explain to me who they are, I'll be able to help you out," Ash sighed.
Misty groaned but drew in a deep breath before explaining, "Pokémon Inspection Agency. It's an agency that inspects Pokémon gyms to make sure they're keeping up with League standards. If someone wants to start a new gym, the PIA will go there and determine if the gym is worthy of becoming official. And if an already established gym isn't holding up…well…"
"Well what?" Ash questioned as Misty trailed off.
"They have the authority to shut those gyms down," Misty sighed, scratching the back of her head.
"Oh," Ash murmured, averting his eyes. After a moment, however, he looked back at Misty with a confident smile. "But you have nothing to worry about! You're a great gym leader, Misty, and this place is in tip-top shape! The PIA has no reason to shut you down!"
Misty let out a bitter laugh, which caused Ash's smile to fade. "That's a nice sentiment, Ash. But the PIA isn't exactly cut-and-dry."
At this, Ash furrowed his brow. "What do you mean?"
"You know all of that paperwork I have to fill out for the League?" Misty asked slowly.
"The PIA has access to it," Misty continued. "Every single piece of paper that I fill out and send to the League, they can look at all of it. They know which Pokémon I use, what their stats are, what my battle record looks like, what the state of the gym is…if I've ever written it down and sent it to the League, the PIA has knowledge of it too."
"Okay," Ash began. "But that doesn't negate what I said before. You're one of the best gym leaders in all of Kanto, Misty. And I'm not just saying that because you're my fiancée and I love you. I get to see all of that paperwork too, and the numbers don't lie: you are one of the best gym leaders in this entire region. So what reason would the PIA have for shutting you down?"
"Ash, they have all of that knowledge, but they don't necessarily care about it," Misty broke out, causing Ash to raise an eyebrow. "If they step foot in this gym, and they see something they don't like, they will hold it against me."
"What wouldn't they like?" Ash questioned.
"Gee, I don't know," Misty began acidly, "a speck of dust, a little bit of chipped paint, a smudge on the aquarium, Psyduck…"
Ash let out a low chuckle. "Misty, come on. There's no way they would shut you down for something as stupid as dirt and smudges."
"They gave Forrest an infraction for there being just too much dust on the windows," Misty deadpanned. "And his battlefield is made of dirt."
Ash just blinked, unsure of how to respond.
"They also gave him another infraction for closing the gym too many times in the past few months," Misty continued, anger now seeping into her voice.
"But…he did that because he needed to take care of Olivia," Ash murmured, referring to Forrest's pregnant fiancée.
"I'm aware, and so is the PIA," Misty sighed. "Even though he filed an official petition with legitimate reasons as to why, they still gave him an infraction for it."
Ash pursed his lips and averted his eyes from Misty.
"Forrest said he feels lucky that the gym wasn't shut down," Misty continued. "But they did give him enough fractions to be put on probation."
Ash looked up slowly at Misty before replying, "Forrest's records come right behind yours. He's just as strong as a gym leader as you are."
"And the PIA doesn't care," Misty finished, giving Ash a small nod. "You understand now."
Ash frowned and looked over his shoulder towards the door, as if the PIA was going to burst through at any moment. Suddenly, his eyes widened, and he threw a big smile at Misty, who raised an eyebrow in response.
"They can't do anything to you," Ash declared.
"Excuse me?" Misty deadpanned.
"They can't do anything to you," Ash repeated, turning towards Misty. "I'm your fiancé, and I'm the Pokémon Master! I may not have known who the PIA was, but they definitely know who I am! I'm like…basically their boss!"
"Technically Goodshow is their boss, not you," Misty cut in. "He's pretty much your boss too, after all."
"Yeah, but I've got a little bit more of a following than he does," Ash chuckled, throwing in a wink for good measure.
Misty, however, was anything but placated. "Let's put the ego on hold for a moment, shall we? Ash, quite honestly, the PIA doesn't care if you're the Pokémon Master. You have nothing to do with this gym. It's my responsibility, and if anything happens to be just a little bit off, I'm the one at fault. They're not going to look at me and say 'well, this gym is a gigantic disappointment and a disgrace to the Kanto region, but its leader is marrying the Pokémon Master so might as well let it go!' It doesn't work that way."
Ash pouted and poked his fingers together. "Well, I think it should work that way…"
Misty finally showed her future husband a sweet smile. She knew that he was only trying to protect her, and she probably wasn't making him feel any better by endlessly lamenting the PIA's arrival. "I'm sorry, Ash. I shouldn't worry you so much. I'm just a little stressed out, and I feel comfortable venting to you."
Ash's big grin returned, much to Misty's relief. "Hey, it's no problem! I'm glad you can tell me what's on your mind."
Misty smirked and closed her eyes. "Well…your title might not have any effect on them, but you definitely have an effect on me. Will you stay with me during the inspection? You being there will probably make me feel a little better while they're running around scrutinizing every aspect of my work life."
Although he still felt bad that she was stressed, Ash couldn't help but to laugh at Misty's comment. "Of course I'll stay with you. Anything you want, Mist."
Misty smiled and strode forward to wrap Ash in her arms. He laughed softly in response and craned his neck in order to kiss the top of her head.
And just like that, the moment was interrupted by the ringing of a doorbell. Misty groaned and separated from Ash, throwing her head back. Vaporeon, meanwhile, jumped up and scurried down the bleachers, right out of the battle area and into the lobby.
"Pika," Pikachu marveled, obviously impressed by Vaporeon's quick reflexes.
"I'm assuming that's them," Misty sighed, putting her head back upright as she rubbed her temples.
"You've got this," Ash assured the redhead, gently grabbing her hand and giving it a little squeeze. "Remember: you're one of the best gym leaders in this whole entire region."
Misty smiled confidently at her fiancé and nodded. Releasing his hand, Misty charged ahead in the same direction that Vaporeon had just gone off in. With both of them gone, Pikachu ran back over to Ash, eagerly hopping onto the man's shoulder.
"Pikapi, pi ka pikachupi pika chu?" The mouse squeaked.
Ash sighed and turned his eyes onto his partner, who seemed somewhat surprised by Ash's response. "Misty's tough, but these PIA people sound like a lot to handle. I'm not sure how I would hold up if someone came to evaluate me like this."
"Pi-ka," Pikachu mumbled, slowly nodding his head.
"All I can do is be supportive of her," Ash concluded, his eyes drifting towards the doorway that Misty had just walked through. "And hope the PIA sees what I do."
Pikachu remained silent, but allowed his eyes to move in the same direction as Ash's. Just as Pikachu looked that way, Misty returned with Vaporeon at her feet and a new figure behind her…one that Ash and Pikachu immediately recognized as a member of the Joy family.
"This is my fiancé, Ash," Misty informed the woman, holding her hand out towards Ash. "Ash, this is Agent Joy of the PIA."
"Nice to meet you," Ash cordially greeted, holding his hand out towards the Joy. Her expression didn't once change, not during Misty's introduction or Ash's greeting, and she reached out to briskly shake his hand.
"Likewise," she responded coolly before striding past him.
Ash's shoulders deflated as he was left behind. His brow furrowing, Ash looked towards Misty and muttered, "I thought nurses were supposed to be nice."
"She's an agent, not a nurse," Misty whispered back, a wry smile on her face. "They don't need any understanding of bedside manner."
Ash let out a puff of air and stared back over at Agent Joy. She was walking around the entire battle area, examining every square inch of the room. In the time that she had stepped away from Ash and Misty, she'd pulled out a small notebook and a pen, and was scribbling notes down on its lined paper.
"So…is she going to talk to you at all during this?" Ash asked.
"Not while she's inspecting," Misty sighed. "She'll do her inspection, take her notes, and at the end of it all I'll be interrogated."
"Interrogated?" Ash repeated.
"I told you, it's intense," Misty muttered, her eyes following Agent Joy.
Ash sighed and returned his gaze to Agent Joy. It was definitely uncomfortable to watch her march around the gym without so much as a single word. Ash was a pretty friendly guy (Misty might actually say too friendly at times) and to him, all of this just seemed cold and not at all personable. He understood that being an agent of the PIA was very serious, but he didn't think it meant you had to be so distant.
"Agent Joy, right?" Ash called out. Misty whipped her head around, shooting her fiancé a look of genuine alarm. Agent Joy, on the other hand, stood up to her full height and looked over her shoulder.
"Yes?" She returned curtly.
"I'm just curious; what made you decide to become an agent for the PIA?" Ash asked conversationally. "I mean, so many of your family members are Pokémon nurses, so I guess I just think it's kind of cool that you chose to do this instead!"
Misty's entire face turned red, while Pikachu let out an exasperated sigh.
"I like the authority," Agent Joy replied quickly before turning back around and returning to her inspection. Ash opened his mouth to continue the conversation, but Misty was able to smack a hand over it before he could get out a single word.
"Shut it!" Misty hissed.
Ash struggled to get out from underneath Misty's palm, managing to succeed after a few seconds of wiggling around. "Why?"
"Because you're going to guarantee me a horrible review!" Misty whined.
"I'm just trying to be polite, that's all," Ash muttered.
"I know, it's embedded in your DNA," Misty sighed. "Listen, Ash. I adore how sweet and kind you are! It balances out my bouts of brusqueness quite nicely. Unfortunately, PIA agents are tough all the time. Not just when they're in a bad mood! Actually, I'd hate to see one in a bad mood…"
"So why would it hurt for me to try and soften her up?" Ash asked.
"It hurts because it's not going to work," Misty countered. "I'm pretty sure one of the requirements to become a PIA agent is to be totally heartless, so even your warmest smile and most interested questioning isn't going to sway her. If anything, it'll only tick her off."
Ash twisted his mouth and looked up at the ceiling. "They'd never hire me as an agent."
Misty snickered at her fiancé's deduction. "No, they wouldn't. They probably wouldn't even let you in through the agency's front door. But that's okay! You're much better off encouraging young kids and entertaining the masses with your battling skills."
Ash wanted to kiss Misty, but his plans were thwarted when Agent Joy cleared her throat to regain Misty's attention. The gym leader rolled her eyes before turning back around and showing Agent Joy a tepid smile.
"Yes?" Misty asked.
Agent Joy ripped a piece of paper out of her notepad and handed it over to Misty. "No infractions. Your gym is in perfect shape and your record is impeccable. I have no further questions."
Misty stared blankly at the paper before lifting her head back up to stare at Agent Joy instead. "Wait…seriously?"
Agent Joy finally showed off the tiniest of smiles, giving the gym leader a single nod. "Yes. Congratulations."
Misty was still in shock, but Ash was fully present. Chuckling, he pulled a stunned Misty against his side, boasting, "I knew you'd do great, Mist! See? You should listen to me more often!"
A little giggle responded, and Ash thought for sure it was Misty. So he was surprised that, when he looked down, he saw that his fiancée was still in shock and hadn't moved her face at all. Glancing back up, Ash saw that Agent Joy had a hand over her mouth, indicating that she was the one who had just laughed.
"You have a very lovely fiancé," Agent Joy informed Misty. "Don't let all of that Pokémon Master fame get to his head."
"Will do," Misty murmured.
And with that, Agent Joy was off. Both Ash and Misty spun around to watch her go, sporting identical stunned looks. As soon as the automatic door sounded, signaling that she was gone, Ash let out an even louder chuckle and turned back towards Misty.
"Told you she'd care who I was!" Ash crowed.
Misty sighed and slapped a hand against her forehead. "Yeah, great. Whatever, at least I passed the inspection."
"With zero infractions!" Ash added. "Man, this is so great. We should celebrate! What do you want to do, Mist?"
The gym leader's eyebrow twitched as she stared her fiancé in the eyes. "Take a nap."